With Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit one of the coolest moments of my life because 2020 has been a royal-pile-of-glitter. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Joe Hill as a writer. It started a little after I graduated high-school when I found his paperback, Horns, on the shelf at a bookstore in the Los Angeles Airport.
Again, I feel like I've written about how much pain it physically feels to think about anything before September of this year.
But at the time that I found it a few years ago, that book really connected with me.
Then it became a movie a year later?
It was so exciting. Then I found NOS4A2 and that book really resonated with me (and there was an Easter egg to Horns).
So it was really exciting when I found out that NOS4A2 was getting a TV show on AMC, which at that point in their lineup had not yet milked their best and longest series on the Network: The Walking Dead.
I loved The Walking Dead, but as a consumer now, there's a lot and I've lost the love for it. I vaguely remember feeling emotionally exhausted through season 7 and I just stopped caring. Unfortunately.
Before this though, I remember being so excited. Mostly because my favorite author at the time was in front of me, reading excerpts from his new book The Fireman. But also, because my favorite book was being made into a series, on one of, at the time, my favorite channels on my Roku.
When I say this was my favorite book, I mean I fully ingulfed myself in the world of Vic McQueen and Charles Manx. I got Wraith when it first released and read and re-read NOS4A2 at least three or four more times (realistically) when I found out that the series was being made. This was of course, after reading my copy into the state of needing duct tape to hold the spine together.
You can guess where I'm going with this one: I bought 2 more copies of the story. A hard copy and a virtual read. It was interesting having the book read to me, reminded me of a short time in my childhood when my single-mom would read me and my brother to sleep.
A little over a year ago, after three years of anticipation, excited tweets and nerd-buildup NOS4A2 aired.
And Oh, was it glorious.
The first episode aired the day after my cat died. So I was kind of dreading the hour I had set aside to watch this series as well as the multiple hours I would spend writing and posting reviews. As you can tell, I chose to opt out of writing a review for each episode of the season because I was starting to really go through it.
But as the minutes trekked on in that first episode, it didn't feel as bad as it had been feeling the day after.
Which was certainly short-lived when Mittens goes missing and the cat in the picture looks like the cat that just died and the cat they used to cut Mittens life short looked like my other cat, it was dark.
The first episode of the series revealed very quickly that they aged up Vic McQueen for the series. Additionally it was going to twist the events of her childhood with the events of her adolescent life and split it the way Warner Brothers split It(2017) and It: Chapter 2(2019).
It was fun watching the world that I had imagined and seen illustrated on the pages of Wraith come to life on the small screen. The moon, which had been my favorite aspect of the world of Christmasland was a little bit of a letdown, especially a year later. After watching the final season of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and seeing the moon of Wendimoor. It just makes it harder to understand why they went with what they went with.
But it wasn't something I questioned because I knew that NOS4A2 was a dark story. And for those who hadn't yet caught on to that by the second episode, a disturbed crescent moon with an evil smirk wasn't going to help the series get a season 2. So it wasn't something that really bothered me until that episode of Dirk Gently when I saw a moon that screamed Christmasland more than the face that was shown.
And the line is iconic:
Did the Moon wink at You?
Ah! I love that line.
The Road to Christmasland is paved in Dreams.
Actually, there were a lot of quick-libs that made the series standout much like this one. But this is the line that lives rent free in my head. And I think for years to come every time I'm reminded of this line I'll get pulled back into that back seat of the Wraith and get sold on the idea of Christmasland right along with Bing Partridge. I have a complicated relationship with the idea of Christmasland but, as a child, I would have loved an Eternal Christmas. No pain, no sadness, no stress, just Christmas morning.
Yeah, I'd want to go.
Also as an adult, the way life has treated me, this year especially, I'd definitely be sitting in the Wraith, listening to Charlie Manx's pitch. But knowing what I know about Charlie and the process of becoming a resident in Christmasland, as well as what I'd need to do to even work for a place like that. For a man, like that. Hell no, I'd rather go swimming at Amity Island.
In episode 5 we are shown why telling anyone about this guy or the land of Imagination would land you a one-way-ticket into a Psych-ward, And yeah Vic, I feel your frustration. But I wouldn't have believed you either. In fact, if anyone, friend or stranger, walked up to me and started talking about Self-driving cars and kidnapping people and taking them to a place in their head I would question the sanity of said person as well.
I recently, as in, this year, learned what Maladaptive Day-Dreaming is. The Inscape idea kind of sounds like that, so that part is kind of believable. But the kidnapping and taking other people inside of your head seems like stuff of fiction, fantasy, and horror. Which is what the show is. And it was wonderful!
Another adaption of Hill's work that dives deeper into the world of the mind that I would like to see completed is Locke and Key on Netflix. That Graphic Novel about a family trying to piece themselves back together after a devastating loss, was a summer read for 2018. I could not put this book down, and honestly had not been that obsessed over Keys since I was 12 trying to find Riku and Kairi in Kingdom Hearts. It's a fun read and if you like the realm-of-the-mind idea it's another one you should check out.
It was announced in July of 2019 NOS4A2, after an intense and positive amount of consumer feedback for the first season, would be receiving a second season.
This was both elevating and nerve-wracking because I was so excited that there would be another season. But also kind of un-easy because they had left out so much and I wasn't sure how the writer's were going to work out the second half of the book, if they were even ready to touch it.
I don't know, I just knew that a part of me knew that the traction for this show as well as the theme based around the plot was dark for basic television and wasn't going to last or become a staple in AMC's Wheel-Of-Renewal.
So for a year, I eagerly waited and hoped that it would wrap up the story by the end of season 2. I made a statement about getting a NOS4A2 tattoo last year. But with everything that happened this year I really want to get a sunflower tattoo because sunflowers represent happiness, vitality, and intelligence. And for a reason I haven't quite grasped yet, the flower has been a staple of who I've become this year.
Season 2 came and went. Each episode was amazing. I would have liked to see more of Christmasland, but also, there really wasn't anything going on Christmasland until Vic went there to get her son back in the book. So I know there wasn't much to show. Also the writer's knew that this was probably going to be the last season of NOS4A2, making sure that everything in the story gets covered. But also changing a few things to make the possibility of a third season plausible. It was interesting watching characters live and die differently to how they are portrayed in the book.
But Season 2 didn't leave anything off the table.
We got a romance between Maggie and Detective Hutter. Everyone was on the hunt for Manx and Bing after Manx faked his death and started targeting Wayne, Vic's son. We are re-introduced to the villain and friend of Charlie Manx, 'The Hourglass'. Whom was introduced in the bar for strong creatives known as 'Parnassus'.
The introduction to Parnassus, in itself was an Easter egg to the universe that Hill shares with his father Stephen King. In both season one as well as in the book of NOS4A2, Hill's characters bring up a place called Pennywise Circus and that still brings a smile to my face.
Another weird random life connect I had with this series on AMC was the scene in episode one when we see car enthusiast Paul Demeter restoring the Wraith back to almost perfect condition, keeping the engine removed to make it a center piece in his garage. He decorates the space where the engine would be with sunflowers.
When I saw that I nearly spat out the sweet tea I had been sipping on for the first few minutes of the episode. That was certainly strange to see given everything that had already been coincidental. And I'm sure it was. But it was also odd. Because even before that moment, the sunflower had become a big part of my 2020.
The rest of Season 2 was kind of meh. Vic's declining mental health was shown more through this season in one episode than it had in the prior season. Watching Vic throw all of the phones away, including the ones that weren't phones but toys into the oven and letting her house go up with her son inside is something that struck a little too close to me for the time I was watching this unfold.
Season 2 aired in June 2020.
So as much as I probably did enjoy it. It wasn't memorable and it wasn't something that I was really enthusiastic about.
The ten weeks that NOS4A2 season 2 aired, flew by so fast that I almost miss being able to binge watch it. I think what also played into my inability to really get into Season 2 much like I had with the season beforehand, was because of my mental health. It's hard to watch something like NOS4A2 when your head isn't in the right place.
Which is probably why there was no Season 3 or spin-off okayed by the Network, because they saw those numbers drop. The viewership for season one NOS4A2 does not compare to it's second season. It's recorded that roughly 350,000 people tuned in each week for season 2, ranking in a total of 800,000 which was about half as many as the season one posting. And this information crosses two major Network channels, BBC America as well as AMC.
So very low numbers.
Which was also what cancelled Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
It's been almost half a year since NOS4A2 concluded and almost half a year since it was released that there would not be a season 3. As of today the only way to watch Season 2 is through the AMC app and buying the episodes online through the Microsoft, Playstation, or Amazon Streaming service. It doesn't look like Season 2 will be available on Hulu, but Season 1 is still available to watch so I have hope that Season 2 will drop on Hulu eventually. But I stopped holding my breath months ago.
But if you're into Horror, the Strange, Vampires, and a little bit of Christmas cheer with a dark twist I do highly recommend the story of Christmasland in NOS4A2. Because even though the numbers sucked for Season 2, the series as a whole was not a disappointment.
And remember: The Road to Christmasland is paved in Dreams.